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PoliticsI am Jess Phoenix, Volcanologist running to represent CA-25 in U.S. Congress. Ask me anything!

Mar 21st 2018 by JessPhoenix • 12 Questions • 46 Points

I'm a volcanologist, an extreme explorer, and a professional field scientist.

I have been chased by narco-traffickers in Mexico, I've dodged armed thieves in remote Peru, raced horses across Mongolia, worked on the world’s largest volcano in Hawaii, piloted the Jason2 submersible on an undersea volcano, and explored deep in the Australian Outback.

I believe science should be accessible to everyone, and that creative possibility is limitless. I'm a Fellow in The Explorers Club, a featured scientist on the Discovery and Science Channels, an invited TEDx speaker, and have appeared in Popular Science magazine, on National Public Radio, on CNN, NBC, and more. I have delivered talks at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles, and at many colleges and universities, and I have carried the official Explorers Club Flag on a research expedition.

I am running to represent California's 25th District in Congress in the 2018 elections, because I believe we must use evidence to make policies. My training in the scientific method has given me skills to solve problems facing our country creatively and effectively. I believe healthcare is a human right and we must focus on providing healthcare to all the members of our community, full stop. I believe we need a clean, no-strings-attached DREAM Act and to find a path to citizenship for those who call our country home. We must view climate change as the tremendous national security threat it is, and it is our government's responsibility to take steps to ensure our nation has a sustainable green energy future. I believe we need to remove big corporate special interest money from our elections, and that is why I'm running a true grassroots campaign.

Please follow the campaign at:

Web: http://jess2018.com
Twitter: jessphoenix2018 Facebook: JessPHX And you can support our campaign by donating here.

EDIT 1: We're in the last 15 minutes of the AMA. For any questions I may not get around to, feel free to send an email to [email protected], and my team (or I) will get back to you.

EDIT 2: Ok, I have to run! Thank you all for participating, and if you'd like to engage more about any particular topic please do drop me an email. Remember, my campaign is fueled by grassroots donors, so I appreciate any and all support you can provide. Please spread the word, and thanks for having me!

Proof: https://twitter.com/jessphoenix2018/status/976545878323286016

Q:

Do you favor ending the federal ban on marijuana?

A:

Yes! It has a massive amount of potential for helping our veteran population, and for helping patients suffering from serious medical conditions. The mass incarceration of people who have committed marijuana-related offenses is a travesty, and we need to decriminalize it as soon as possible.


Q:

Hello Jess! I've been following your campaign and I'm so excited to see someone running for office that is coming from a science background as opposed to a traditional political background. Even more so because you seem to be super cool, empathetic to all Americans, and most of all intelligent, all things that are surely lacking in Congress these days, a few exceptions aside. My question is that I am very worried that because so many new progressive candidates are running in primaries, that the field is becoming overcrowded, which may threaten getting a democrat into the general election because of the top two voting system, and that numerous candidates will cancel each other out in votes, leaving Republican incumbents all the spoils. Even more worrisome is that the DCCC and other establishment democratic leaders are calling for the candidates with the least amount of money (ie:Progressives who don't take corporate money) to drop out of the race in order to make sure that we get at least one democrat into the general election. This frustrates me to no end and I don't want to see this happen to your campaign. Is this something that is on your mind and what do you think we can do to make sure true progressives such as yourself do not get pushed out of the process because you only take small donations? Thank you again!!

A:

You raise a very valid point. My answer to those who only want to back the candidates with the most money is that just because someone raises money doesn't equal success as a legislator. You need to be able to engage with people in the community and stand strong for the issues that matter. Often, those who raise the most money then have their hands tied by their big donors.

The best thing we can all do for true grassroots campaigns is to amplify their messages. The fact that only 0.58% of all American adults donate politically is why our voices aren't heard in Congress. Encourage your friends to donate to candidates they care about, even if it's only $50, or even $5. That way they're claiming their voice, and enough voices will build into a movement.


Q:

Jess, do you believe we can get big money out of campaigns by restructuring how campaigns are run to better take advantage of today's tech? I have trouble seeing the need for millions of dollars when a candidate can do daily or weekly town hall type broadcasts, skip the media and talk directly to masses of voters. 45 tapped into this, but I'd like to see it taken so much further, especially when reaching out to younger voters.

A:

I am fully in support of campaign finance reform, including overturning Citizens United and instituting public funding for elections at all levels. My campaign is an example of what you're talking about - we're not doing big TV ad buys, but instead communicating using social media and in-person efforts to spread the word. I believe that if we want to see true representation of our country in our elected officials, we need to find ways to increase access to the political conversation. Politics-as-usual won't cut it any longer!


Q:

I read online that you have a ton of rescue animals... What kind? Please rate them in order of snuggliness.

A:

I have 2 rescued ex-racehorses, 3 rescued dogs, 2 rescued cats, and 3 rescued birds. Snuggliness rating:

1 Aria, chiweenie 2 Magellan, black kitty 3 Vash The Stampede, horse 4 Titan, terrier mix pup 5 Roma, terrier mix pup 6 Thomson, albino mourning dove 7 Sharky, fluffy grey kitty 8 Mojave, horse 9 Alonzo, king pigeon 10 Gregory, king pigeon

Q:

Hi Jess I am in CA25 and you ROCK What is your opinion on the sale of public lands? What can we do to prevent it? Also destruction of the EPA?

A:

Thank you, and howdy fellow 25er!

I am furious about how the public lands are being handled, particulary under Zinke. We need a huge public outcry to push back, and we need to support the tribes that are fighting back on Bears Ears. (https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/bears-ears-tribes-monument_us_5aaf32b9e4b0337adf851f76)

We have to elect legislators who understand the importance of environmental protections. Everyone wants clean air, clean water, and clean soils. The only way we can insure that those are protected is by electing people who will fight back against Pruitt's toxic agenda of stripping protections. Help the Blue Wave candidates. Donate, march, call your legislators, write them, show up to protests. DO NOT be silent. Have conversations with your friends and family...even difficult ones. Tell people why these things matter to you. Make it personal.


Q:

Which part of the 25th district are you from? I’d love to help in anyway to get Steve Knight out of office. Is there a way I can get in touch with you to offer my Video Production and social media skills to you and your campaign?

A:

I live in Acton, and I used to live in Simi. I was an FBI brat, and moved a lot as a kid, and my husband Carlos' family is in Simi still. I moved to CA in 2007, and to Simi in 2014. It would be excellent to have you help out! Please fill out the form here and our Volunteer Coordinator will be in touch: http://jess2018.com/volunteers


Q:

[deleted]

A:

I am fully supportive of labor unions! They drive middle-class growth and success, and allow people to earn a fair wage and create protections from corporate overreach.


Q:

This is certainly the least important question you'll receive here today, but: Are you a Dodgers fan or an Anaheim Angels fan?

No matter the answer, you have my vote!

A:

I bleed Dodger blue all day long. :D

I CANNOT wait for this season. I'm kind of obsessed with Kenley Jansen and Justin Turner (and I really like Puig, too).


Q:

Hey Jess, I'm from SoCal (not from 25) and I was curious about what made you decide to become a volcanologist? Also, why aren't there any volcanos named "Mt. Doom"? Seems like an awesome volcano name.

A:

I was really into tectonics and particularly subduction zones (I mean come on, I was going to grad school at CSULA and studying all of the faults in the area), but I applied and was accepted to the USGS' Hawaiian Volcano Observatory as a volunteer researcher. I worked on Mauna Loa and Kilauea volcanoes, and on the Loihi Seamount to start. I was hooked from my first day.

I am going to go ahead and agree with you. We need to get on that. There is a volcano in Ecuador that I've worked on named El Reventador, which means "The Eruptor," and I've also worked on Ol Doinyo Lengai in Tanzania, and that name means "Mountain of God." Those are pretty badass, in my opinion. Still no Mt. Doom that I know of (I bet there's one on another planet - help me out, planetary geo folks)!


Q:

Still no Mt. Doom that I know of (I bet there's one on another planet - help me out, planetary geo folks)!

Astrophysics grad student here. There is a "Doom Mons" (a cryovolcano) on Saturn's moon, Titan! And (fun fact) there is also a "Mordor Macula" on Pluto's largest moon, Charon.

A:

Thank you! I knew someone would know if there was one, and if there was I was banking on it being somewhere other than Earth.


Q:

Hi Jess! You've talked a lot about environmental issues, especially climate change, but there are a few other environmental issues I haven't seen you address. One is the proliferation of plastic. Massive amounts of plastic are now polluting our oceans and it doesn't decompose. Another is the recent dramatic decline of insect populations, most importantly the bee population. Do you find these issues concerning and if so, do you have any policy proposals to address them?

A:

Plastic is terrible for our environment. I am very encouraged by California's leadership on banning plastic bags at grocery stores, which is already working to reduce litter. I fully support that and other efforts we see to eliminate styrofoam and plastic from fast food packaging in favor of more sustainable options. This is something we should be working to institute nationwide, because plastics are extremely harmful to the environment and wildlife. Thank you for asking, and I will definitely prioritize legislation that works to reduce plastic waste.


Q:

Hi Jess!

What are your thoughts on the free speech/hate speech discussion? Do you think there is any speech, other than current examples (fire in a crowded movie theater), that should be made illegal? Or do you believe all speech (with reasonable exceptions) should be treated fairly as is currently under the first amendment?

A:

The right to free speech is an essential part of life in America. I believe that protecting free speech is critical. We also must recognize speech that incites violence for what it is and take action to combat it.